Ugly Is As Ugly Does: Folklords #2

by Brendan M. Allen

Against the order of his village, Ansel strikes out to find the Folklords, the only beings that can explain his visions of another world. But the forest is even more dark and terrible than he was told, and Ansel meets two very different women who will change his life—one way or another—forever.

In Folklords #2, Ansel sets out on his forbidden quest, accompanied by the other village oddball, Archer the elf (This cat is, wait for it, an elven archer). They run up against a pretty good set of fantasy tropes straight out of the chute.
There’s the overgrown, dark, short path and the bright, well kept, longer path. The massive, ugly troll lady, and the petite, blonde damsel in distress. They’ll even encounter the candy house trap. There’s also an Archer/Jonah thing going on. Because, why not?
Thing is, for all the obvious tropes, there are little twists on each. Some are very subtle. Some, not so much.

Matt Kindt plays around quite a bit with perspective and challenging belief systems. There’s a whole lot to unpack in this chapter. Ansel is a strange dude and it seems like he’s learning as much about himself as we are, through a conveniently placed set of odd trials. Seems like he failed that first big one, but then his growth in the second scenario actually kind of drives the first failure home even harder.

Art by Matt Smith and Chris O’Halloran is well suited to the twists and loops within Kindt’s script. Part of the job is to make all these fantasy characters and scenarios look perfectly ordinary and mundane, while everyday items like wristwatches and electric matches look foreign and strange. Smith’s linework is deceptively simple, but amazing effective at conveying complex emotion.
I’m in kind of a weird place with this one. It’s entertaining, sure. Well written. Fantastic art. It’s a fun book to read. The biggest holdup for me is the pacing, I think. This is only the second chapter, but since this is only a five piece mini, it’s also the pre-antepenultimate installment. With only three books remaining, I’m having a hard time envisioning a satisfying conclusion. Folklords #3 is going to seal this thing for me one way or the other.
Folklords #2 (of 5), BOOM! Studios, 18 December 2019. Written by Matt Kindt, illustrated by Matt Smith, color by Chris O’Halloran, letters by Jim Campbell, cover by Matt Smith, back cover by Matt Kindt, unlocked retailer variant by Michael Avon Oeming, logo by Marie Krupina, designed by Michelle Ankley, edited by Eric Harburn, with assistant editors Ramiro Portnoy and Gavin Gronenthal.

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